How to dunk

January 10, 2017

Sports, Expert

Though he’s just 6 feet tall, sophomore guard Khwan Fore is the Alfred Nobel of dunking: a figure born in explosiveness who calls forth our highest ideals of excellence. Wouldn’t we all like to dunk like him? Let’s face it. We can’t. But here are the steps, in case you care to try.
According to guard Khwan Fore, his strength coach, and a physics professor

Step 1: Discover young that you’ve got a gift.
“When I really noticed I could get up was probably when I was in seventh or eighth grade,” Fore said. “I had my first dunk after my eighth-grade year, in the summer.”

Step 2: Nurse it in the gym for years.
Fore is “extremely strong,” said Jay DeMayo, strength coach, who helped break down the physics of Fore’s dunks for SpiderTV in October. “Pound for pound, he’s up there with probably the top five guys we’ve ever had.”

Step 3: Pick your moment.
“If I get a steal, I’m going to try to dunk to make the play even bigger than what it could be,” Fore said. “I’ve always got one or two secure dunks.”

Step 4: When the moment comes, accelerate laterally.
“You have to leave the floor with a certain velocity to make it to the basket,” said physics professor Christine Helms, who also appears in the SpiderTV segment.

According to the video analysis, Fore approaches the basket with a horizontal velocity of 4.34 meters per second at the point of liftoff. That’s nearly 10 mph.

Step 5: Convert your lateral momentum to vertical momentum.
“If you want to change your velocity, then you have to apply a force,” Helms said.

This is where Fore’s strength comes in, said DeMayo. There are three different muscle contractions involved: eccentric (lengthening), isometric (stopping), and concentric (shortening).

“The ones that are really important when it comes to being explosive are the first two,” he said.

Step 6: Accelerate vertically.
“Khwan’s vertical velocity turns out to be about 4.31 meters per second, which is nearly identical to his horizontal velocity,” said Will Bryan, associate director of athletic public relations, who narrates the SpiderTV video. 

Step 7: Fly swiftly.
Fore’s vertical and horizontal acceleration add up to a momentum greater than its parts because as he jumps toward the basket, he is moving simultaneously in both vertical and horizontal directions.

His total velocity along this angular trajectory “turns out to be about 6.11 meters per second,” Bryan said. “Over 14 mph.”

Step 8: Slam it home and make ’em notice.
A Fore dunk “is almost like slugging a triple espresso and having smelling salts broke under your nose at the same time,” DeMayo said. “It should wake everybody up and get them going.”

Step 9: Recognize that your spectacular dunk isn’t just any two points.
After a dunk in double overtime that put away a win against George Washington last season, Fore looked over at his bench.

“I just see my teammates and my staff and coaches and everybody just going crazy,” he said.

Step 10: Smile.
Fore’s got a winning one.